Barker Martin

Condo-HOA Blog

Dance Like Nobody is Watching, But Email Like Everyone is Watching

You’ve probably all heard the saying, “dance like nobody is watching.” It is likely hung on a friend’s wall right now, just feet away from a Live, Laugh, Love sign. And, while I wholeheartedly support that sentiment, I offer some practical advice: email like everyone is watching.

Board members of an association often email with vendors, other board members, unit owners, and attorneys. These emails run the gamut from dealing with a water leak, to a delinquent owner, to inviting a fellow board member over for a drink. Most of those emails are intended to be read only be the people on the email. The audience certainly dictates not only what is said, but how it is said. So what happens when those emails are produced in discovery, sometimes months or even years after they are written? Well, there can be some problematic results.

In both construction defect litigation and insurance litigation for associations, opposing parties often seek broad discovery. One such request is for “all emails between or among board members relating to the condominium.” Fortunately, most emails that include the Association’s attorney will be privileged. But emails among or between board members may not be.

There are two problems I’ve seen arising out of this situation. One is that context is often difficult to recreate after the passage of time. So, emails regarding a “leak” in the building might seem bigger than the $10 repair to fix it. Without some sort of explanation or closure, insurers or other defendants might suggest that the association had knowledge of a problem outside of the statute of limitations.

Another problem may simply be embarrassing emails. I’ve seen board members speak poorly or make jokes about a unit owner or employee. These emails may be used by the other side to paint an unfair picture of a board member. Or, it simply may be embarrassing for those emails to come to light.

My advice is to write emails with the assumption that someday the email will be read in open court. While I can’t help any embarrassment you might suffer if you get caught dancing alone, hopefully I can help avoid some unwanted embarrassment at the hands of uncensored emails.

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Dance Like Nobody is Watching, But Email Like Everyone is Watching

You've probably all heard the saying, "dance like nobody is watching." It is likely hung on a friend's wall right now, just feet away from a Live, Laugh, Love sign. And, while I wholeheartedly support that sentiment, I offer some practical advice: email like everyone is watching. read more

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Contracts in the Age of COVID-19

Associations across the country continue to try to operate as best they can during the COVID-19 pandemic. Stay-at-home orders, social distancing requirements, and the closure of non-essential business are having an enormous impact on the day-today operations of associations and may have a significant impact on existing and future association contracts. read more

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Ep. IX: The Rise of (Low Risk & Existing) Construction Projects

The last several days have seen changes in Washington State as Governor Inslee ordered the limited re-opening of certain business sectors. Among these actions was an order resuming low-risk construction work. Unlike Oregon, whose business closure order did not apply to the construction industry, Washington halted virtually all construction statewide. read more

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HOA Life Under Quarantine: Do We Need to Amend?

Hey everyone, it's Double Blog Day! We are getting a lot of COVID-19 related questions and a lot is happening at the state level, so we decided to double up this week. Some of the questions we are getting are about whether communities should be amending their governing documents to fit the realities of social distancing or quarantine, including amendments to change the date of the annual meeting, allow video meetings, electronic notice, or electronic voting. Cutting to the chase, the answer is PROBABLY NOT. read more

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Washington Proclamation 20-51: Some of this May Help

On April 17, 2020, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee implemented Proclamation 20-51 relating to "Community Association Meetings and Late Fees" but the Proclamation covers fines, too. Proclamation 20-51: read more

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